September 19, 2014

Need a Super Cheap & Versatile DIY Diffuser? Try a Shower Curtain

You don't need deep pockets to get some pro-looking diffusion. In fact, a dollar is probably all it'll take. Here's Film Riot's Ryan Connolly to give you some tips on how to utilize an everyday shower curtain to soften light, as well as how to grade your footage to make it look more cinematic.

When footage has that unattractive "video-y" look, one major culprit is harsh lighting. In fact, many a cinematographer will tell you that it's the lighting, not (only) the camera, that gives images that coveted cinematic look. (I'm sure I'm not the only one who saved up several thousand dollars to buy a nice digital camera, dropped the ball on lighting, and wondered why my film didn't "look like a film.") Diffusing light is a great way to achieve that aesthetic -- if, in fact, a diffused look is what you're going for.

Now, depending on what kinds of stores you have in your town, you could potentially get a shower curtain for as little as a dollar, but even if you don't have a Dollar Store (or any variation thereof) near you, you won't be spending more than $10. And the great thing about a shower curtain, other than the fact that they come in a bunch of different opacities and colors, is that they're so big. You could use them to diffuse light coming from a large light source, or cut it up and use the pieces to diffuse multiple sources.

If shower curtains aren't your thing for whatever reason, there are a myriad of other materials you could use for diffusion, like T-shirts, bed sheets, Tupperware, visqueen, towels -- you could build your own panels that utilize diffusion material or even stretch some pantyhose over the back of your lens. There are virtually endless DIY methods for diffusing light that won't empty your wallet, so if you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments below. What works? What absolutely doesn't work? Let us know!     

Your Comment

8 Comments

Or head to a fabric store and get some muslin and you won't melt your shower curtains.

September 20, 2014 at 2:04AM

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John Gardiner
Cinematographer
89

I picked up 6'x6' of muslin at the local fabric store for $12 and I use it as diff or bounce depending what I need and it adds a little warmth to the light. Love it

September 20, 2014 at 8:54AM

7
Reply

+1 on that... The Deakins way just works....

September 22, 2014 at 3:47AM

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Torben Greve
Cinematographer
888

I like the fabric shower curtains. They come hemmed.

September 30, 2014 at 12:34PM

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How does he get such noiseless images, is it because of the c100

September 20, 2014 at 11:34AM

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Liam
Director, screenwriter, editor, DP
81

What about normal bed sheet?

September 21, 2014 at 12:38PM

13
Reply

Works very Well...Amazing :D

September 23, 2014 at 2:33AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7660

I've used baking paper before with good results. Best to go for the white baking paper, the brown stuff warms up the shots unless that is what you want.

September 23, 2014 at 6:35AM

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Samir
89

Just get a few yards of flame retardant tough spun or half spun diffusion and/or 216/250 (I'm old school and prefer the spun material...mainly b/c it's so much quieter when setting up...plus it doesn't have to be locked down so tightly on windy days). Come on...diffusion isn't cheap, but it isn't expensive either...it's the right tool for the job and doesn't melt. Why would you ever use a shower curtain unless you were already on location and grabbed some from the hotel because you forgot it or something?

October 2, 2014 at 6:51PM, Edited October 2, 6:51PM

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Daniel Mimura
DP, cam op, steadicam op
2100